By Neil Schulman
Long Branch — For yet another year, the annual audit of Long Branch’s finances has come back with no comments or recommendations to change the practices.
“I think I have some really good news tonight,” auditor John Swisher, of the firm Suplee, Clooney & Company, told the Long Branch City Council at its Aug. 25 meeting as he reviewed the annual audit.
The goal of these annual financial audits is to ensure the city’s books are “free from material misstatements,” Swisher said. “That’s the opinion you’re going to get tonight.”
There were three main fields they looked at. The first was a review of the city’ financial records. The second was a review of the city’s internal controls. And the third was to review how grants were being processed. The last one isn’t always required, but has been common for many municipalities this year, due to the number of grants received due to the Covid crisis, Swisher said.
Long Branch is in “excellent condition,” and has earned an AAA bond rating. This means that it can get loans with low interest. Swisher said that rating firms like Moody’s look at many factors to determine the ratings. Some issues are outside a city’s control, but others, like its surplus, are not. The city’s $17.6 million surplus is considered well used for Long Branch.
Swisher said the city’s financial department, including CFO Mike Martin, were really on the ball. Martin has a background in auditing, he noted. When conducting the audit,he found the department had the answers he needed. “You don’t get blank stares back,” something which has happened in other towns.
A clean audit has become a regular event for the city. Martin said they’d received the “unmodified” audit at least the last six years.